|photo credit: @ifatma. via photopin cc|
The following is a manuscript for the sermon, Gods Mighty Grip, prepared for my preaching class. I hope it is a blessing for you.
"Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." - Psalm 23:6Most of you may already know that Psalm 23 is a famous biblical poem known as the Shepherds Psalm. It was written by King David sometime during his kingship over the nation of Israel. Now that may be very interesting and all but the reality is that when you are in the midst of a trial in life you could care less about the history of some Bible poem. Many of us are currently wrestling with depression, loneliness, or guilt. So how in the world does Psalm 23 offer you any hope?
Well I am happy to announce to you today that God’s word is never void of offering you hope in the midst of conflict. You see, king David was not always king. As a matter of fact before he became king he was actually a shepherd boy wandering through the mountains and valleys taking care of his fathers flock. The story goes that while he was taking care of the sheep one day a bear showed up and tried to have some lunch. Now, I have never seen a bear in person but I used to watch this show when I was a kid called When Animals Attack and after what I saw on that show, I can assure you I wouldn’t stick around. However, David fought the bear and beat him. Another time a lion attacked the flock and the Bible says that it snatched a lamb from the flock. David went after it, snatched the lamb from its mouth, caught the lion by its beard and killed it! Now that is some serious stuff. This guy was no joke. Those sheep must have felt safe with David! But David didn’t take the credit for it; instead he said it was God who delivered him from the lion and the bear. It was in those mountains and valleys, alone with his father’s sheep, that David learned that God was with him and that He would never let him go. Years later David defeated the giant Goliath and eventually became king over all of Israel. And all along God was with him. Isn’t that amazing?
When you read the story of David you walk away with the impression that, “here is a guy who is in love with God.” David refers to this relationship in Psalms 23 when he wrote: “The Lord is my shepherd.” Notice, David did not say, the Lord is a shepherd. He said my shepherd. David had learned long ago that God was with him and that God would never let him go. Have you learned that lesson? I remember the story of a man named Joseph Scriven. He was due to be married to his high-school sweetheart and a day before the wedding she drowned. Years later he was once again in love and due to be married. A week before the wedding his fiancé caught pneumonia and died. And do you know what Joseph Scriven did? Instead of cursing God, he wrote a poem: “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear…” You see, you cannot learn Psalms 23 in theology school or divinity school. You cannot learn it in your study or in a library somewhere. This truth, the truth that God will never let you go, you can only learn it in life. David learned this truth in life. This is why he was able to say, “the Lord is my shepherd.”
Everything on Psalm 23 hinges on his main point: “The Lord is my shepherd.” I am not going to study all of the verses in Psalm 23 today. Instead, I would like to focus on the conclusion of David’s poem. However, I want to tie the conclusion to the introduction so that it reads, “The Lord is my shepherd…Surely his goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in His house forever.” What David is essentially saying is this: Because the Lord is my shepherd, He will bless me in this life and in the life to come. He will hold on to me and never let me go.
Many of us know about the latter part of this verse. We know about the ultimate reward. We know about heaven. What many of us fail to realize is that when God is our shepherd He is with us always! We are not waiting for some future day when we will finally be in God’s presence. He is here now. He is involved in your life. He is not distant and far away. No! He is actively involved in your life right now. So when it seems like you are alone. When you feel dejected, forgotten, or betrayed you must believe that God is with you and that He will not let you go. Gods got a mighty grip on his children. Bears of life might come to frighten you, lions might come to devour you, giants may come to enslave you but God will never let you go. He will be there to strengthen you through every trial. Now if you don’t believe me, look at what David says. He says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” The Hebrew word for follow literally means “pursue.” God is pursuing us with His goodness and His love. He wants to give it to us. He wants our lives to be filled with His presence. God does not want to let us go. So He pursues us.
God wants to be with us so bad, that not only does He pursue us in this life, but He has promised us eternal life with Him as well.
God loves you. He cannot imagine a day without you. I often hear people who have lost a loved one who lived with them talk about what it is like to go back home. It’s empty. Something’s missing. A lot of them move because they cannot take living in the same house. David says God is taking us to His eternal home to live with us forever. God wants you in His home. It’s empty there right now and He wants you to be there. And if He has to pursue you and hold on to you and call out to you to get you there He’ll do it.
God will never let you go. He will carry you through the dark hours of your life. He will sustain you. And ultimately, He will take you home to be with Him. But this is only possible if you allow Him to be your shepherd. Would you like to invite Him to be your shepherd today?